Every year in Oct I take about a week off for a bikepacking trip, this year the single speed MTB Japan open was being held in neighboring Nagano ken in the mountain resort town of Hakuba, so I thought why not combine a race in the middle of a 6 day bikepacking tour, I saw on their website they also needed volunteers to help out on the Sat so I offered my services and showed up in Hakuba later Friday afternoon after having ridden 215km over 2 days to get there. I meet up with all the staff on the Friday night and we had a take out dinner and a few drinks . I also did not have to use my tent as we were all housed in a ski field rest house that was our base for the weekend right next to the start / finish line. After a nice sleep indoors we all got up early, I cooked up some fantastic hot pasta while everybody else ate cold leftovers from the night before. Then we headed out in teams over the 10km course , blocking off side trails with tape and putting in marker posts.
That job was completed around 11am then we test rode the entire course , that's when I realized that I was rather over geared for such a race with my touring gear of 33 - 16T while everyone else was running 32 - 24 T etc. The gearing on my bike is set up for long distance bikepacking which allows me to ride fully loaded at 18km per hour rather than racing up and down ski fields. so after test the course I decided I needed more grip on my Shimano saint pedals to took out the washers to extend the pins, readjusted my chain tension and cleaned the chain ready for the race the following day. That afternoon my mate Brian arrived from Niigata on the train to also take part in the race, we meet riders and bicycle shop owners from all over Japan and a couple of really nice French single speed racers David & Benoit who were fans of this blog !. Also riders that had arrived early were able to test ride the course which helped a lot for the following days race. After a great onsen which was located nearby everybody enjoyed a big BBQ party from 6pm till 11pm - I found out single speed racers really love drinking and are not very serious , more into having a lot of fun which suited me fine. I went off to bed around 11.30pm ready for the following days race.